A low scoring weekend in League Two nevertheless saw some intriguing results, with second-placed Port Vale coming unstuck at Northampton, and Cheltenham stealing a march on Fleetwood Town; usurping third place.
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 1-0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Stanley arrested their recent disastrous slide with a narrow victory, earned by a late goal from top scorer Padraig Amond. Despite losing five of their last seven matches, Stanley found their manager poached by Chesterfield in the week, but caretaker boss Leam Richardson saw his side dominate possession though ride their luck, as goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin made a number of excellent saves. The victory consolidated Accrington’s position exactly halfway, while Rovers, who could have drawn level with their opponents had they won, now see themselves being dragged once more close to the murky depths.
AFC WIMBLEDON 0-1 GILLINGHAM
Neal Ardley has not made quite the impact that Dons fans were hoping, and this result means he has won only one of his four games in charge so far. There is of course no disgrace in losing to the league leaders, but Ardley accused his players of being fearful afterwards, and lucky to lose by just one goal. That said, the home side had an equal split of chances, and hoarded more possession. The Gills’ 23rd minute winner came from midfielder Romain Vincent, who was making his first appearance on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, as he found the bottom corner from the edge of the box. This was the response of Champions, after Gillingham suffered a rare midweek defeat to Torquay.
BURTON ALBION 1-0 BRADFORD CITY
A torrid afternoon for the Bantams ended with a late defeat, as they struggled on having lost two men to injury, and their captain to a first-half red card for violent conduct. Ravenhill was sent off after a skirmish with Lee Bell, though boss Phil Parkinson was unhappy and has suggested that they will appeal. James Hanson nodded narrowly wide for Bradford, while Albion’s Jacques Maghoma hit the crossbar. The game was only settled with ten minutes left, when Calvin Zola converted a Damien McCrory cross, lifting Albion to the periphery of the play-off zone.
CHELTENHAM TOWN 3-0 EXETER CITY
Reading loanee Lawson D’Ath opened the scoring on his debut for the Robins, as they executed a convincing victory over an Exeter side who are plummeting like a stone. After an excellent start to the season, the Devon team have lost six of their last eight matches, though it is a testament to that start they still sit in eleventh. Despite shading possession, and Jamie Cureton seeing an early effort cleared off the line, the Grecians were overwhelmed by the Robins’ clinical edge. D’Ath’s goal early in the second half was added to by a tidy brace from Keith Lowe, as Cheltenham fortified their position in third.
CHESTERFIELD 0-1 BARNET
Could the great escape really be on? Since Edgar Davids’ arrival, the Bees are buzzing, having notched two wins and a draw where all they had previously tasted was defeat. This win must have been particularly satisfying, as it came with a last minute penalty from midfielder Mark Byrne, following a foul from Drew Talbot. Barnet goalkeeper Graham Stack was particularly busy in the first half, as the Spireites strived to give new boss Paul Cook something to glean from his debut match in the hotseat. Although still bottom, Barnet are now just two points from safety.
DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE 0-0 ALDERSHOT TOWN
Dean Holdsworth will feel a little better about life after a week when Aldershot finally won again, away at Southend, and drew away at Dagenham. Aside from the Daggers striking the top of the crossbar, this was a mundane match with little to separate the sides, although the Shots could have done their survival hopes no end of good had they won, as it would have put them level on points with their rivals. As it is, they still languish in the bottom two, with a resurgent Barnet now breathing down their necks.
ROCHDALE 0-0 FLEETWOOD TOWN
A strange game at Spotland saw the home side dominating possession, but finding themselves unable to finish off Fleetwood, despite a red card for the Cod Army’s Alex Marrow, and a penalty, which was superbly tipped onto the post by Scott Davies. Dale were looking for back-to-back home wins, having defeated Oxford in midweek, but it was not to be. They remain outside the play-off zone, while Fleetwood are sitting pretty in fourth.
ROTHERHAM UNITED 1-0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE
The Millers earned a third victory on the bounce after seeing off the Pilgrims at the New York Stadium. Substitute Kieran Agard made the difference when he converted Daniel Nardiello’s cross in the 73rd minute, but it was a game of many chances squandered, particularly from the home side. After losing Lionel Ainsworth to an injury in the warm-up, and Dale Tonge inside five minutes to another injury, the Millers set about peppering Argyle’s goal, and came close through Lee Frecklington, Ben Pringle, Gareth Evans, and a disallowed effort from Kari Arnason, while Argyle saw Guy Madjo botch a rare chance.
SOUTHEND UNITED 0-0 YORK CITY
A game only a masochist would wish to see again, perhaps the only moment of genuine interest came when York’s Jason Walker headed an absolute sitter wide from six yards out.
TORQUAY UNITED 1-0 MORECAMBE
Torquay clung on to Danny Stevens’ 30th minute goal to see off a Morecambe side who sent up goalkeeper Barry Roche in the dying minutes, to no avail. Roche had already made a fantastic save from Billy Bodin to prevent it from becoming 2-0, while Gulls’ boss Martin Ling admitted this was a ground-out, stoical display rather than anything particularly flowing, but will be delighted that Torquay are still unbeaten at home this season.
WYCOME WANDERERS 1-3 OXFORD UNITED
Chris Wilder once again saw off the immediate threat of the sack, as Oxford followed a hugely disappointing midweek loss to Rochdale with a comfortable victory over strugglers Wycombe. James Constable finally broke his personal drought to open the scoring on four minutes, set up by Tom Craddock, who belted in a second a minute into the second half. Just three minutes later, the home side made a game of it with a Joel Grant penalty, after Constable had dragged down Gareth Ainsworth, but just after the hour mark Sean Rigg sent in a cross that was headed home by Johnny Mullins to settle the contest.
NORTHAMPTON TOWN 2-0 PORT VALE
Port Vale, despite getting seven out of eight shots on target, finished on the wrong end of a scoreline that didn’t flatter the Cobblers. They opened the scoring in bizarre fashion on 20 minutes, as Alex Nicholls pounced on a loose backpass to round the goalkeeper. Sadly, he was scythed down as he put the ball into an empty net by John McCombe, which actually broke his leg. After eleven minutes of treatment, and a red card for McCombe, play resumed, and Town put the horrific incident behind them to finish the Valiants, as Akinfenwa laid off for Louis Moult to finish just before half-time. Port Vale remain in second, while Northampton moved up to fourteenth.